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Did the Prophet Really Attack the Tribe of Judham?

05 December, 2016
Q As-salamu alikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh dear brother/sister, I have a question pertaining to whether the attack on the tribe of Judham (for looting gifts from a ruler to the Prophet (SAW) by Zaid Ibn Harithah) is an authentic story. And if it is, why did the Prophet (SAW) order the attack on the tribe of Judham and captured so many camels, cattle as well as women and children just for the looted gifts? I sincerely believe that our Prophet (SAW), in all his mercy and wisdom, would avoid rash actions. As such, what is the actual reason and the wisdom (if any), behind the attack? I searched the Internet for the answer to my question, but all it produced were the evil and deceptive websites of the unbelievers. I do not wish to read such websites as they aim at confusion and aid the Shaytan in casting doubts into the hearts of Muslims. I do sincerely hope that you will be able to aid me in this. Jazakallah Khairan


Asalam Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh Feroz,

Thank you for contacting Ask About Islam with your question, and for seeking the truth about the Prophet’s (PBUH) life.

Looking Carefully Into Sources

When we receive information, the first thing we should do is make sure that the source of the information is authentic. This is an Islamic and a Quranic principle. The Quran instructs:

{O you who believe! If an evil-doer comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done.} (Al-Hujurat 49:6)

From this verse, we learn that verifying a source of information is a way to avoid harming anyone with false information or rumors. If this is the standard for preventing harm in general, imagine what the standard is, or should be, in preventing harm to the Prophet’s (PBUH) reputation? Therefore, we have to be careful with anything we read about the Prophet (PBUH).

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To be sure, there are a lot of misconceptions about the Prophet’s (PBUH) life. And a lot of these misconcpetions are free for all to read on the internet. Some writers who promote this kind of misinformation take things out of context. Some do not even mention the source of their misinformation, and, when they do, it is inaccurate. All of this is done to confuse readers and cast doubt onto the Prophet (PBUH).

The Prophet (PBUH) was guided by Almighty Allah. The Quran states:

{Your companion does not err, nor does he go astray; nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed, the Lord of Mighty Power has taught him.} (An-Najm 53:2-5)

In handling misconceptions, we should be objective, tell the truth, and give context. In order to understand any person, any story, any event, we need context. This is also true for the Prophet’s (PBUH) life. Understanding the context surrounding everything that happened in his life is vital to putting things into perspective. 

The Incident in Question

As for the story you referred to, the authentic account along with context is as follows: The Prophet (PBUH) decided to send messages (letters) to the kings beyond Arabia, calling them to Islam. In order to give the delegates who would deliver these letters credibility, the Prophet had a silver seal made engraved with the words: “Muhammad the Messenger of Allah“. (Al-Bukhari) 

The Prophet (PBUH) ordered Dihyah Al-Kalbi to hand his letter over to the king of Busra, who would in turn, send it to Caesar. (Al-Bukhari) Caesar received Dihyah Al-Kalbi well and sent him back with gifts for the Prophet. On his way back to Madinah, Dihyah Al-Kalbi was intercepted by people from the Tribe of Judham in an area called Hisma. The Judham Tribe looted the presents sent by Caeser to the Prophet.

Before this incident, the Prophet (PBUH) signed a treaty with some people from the Tribe of Judham, and they embraced Islam. When these people who signed this treaty heard about the attack, they interfered and returned the presents to Dihyah.

However, by this attack on Dihyah, the tribe of Judham broke their treaty with the Prophet (PBUH). When Dihyah told the Prophet what happened, the Prophet decided to dispatch Zaid ibn Harithah at the head of five hundred men to Hisma. A battle insued. Zaid and his troops inflicted heavy losses on those who fought them and captured 1000 of their camels, 5000 of their cattle, and a hundred women and boys.

The chief of Judham, who had embraced Islam, complained to the Prophet (PBUH) about the capturing of the livestock and people. The Prophet ordered that all the spoils and captives be returned to the Tribe. (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum)

The Prophet wanted to gain the hearts of the people of Judham and to prove that he did not fight for taking spoils and captives, but he fought to defend his followers who were attacked for no reason.

Dealing With Enemies

The Prophet (PBUH) never tortured or abused anyone. He was known for his mercy and kindness even to his enemies. There are many authentic accounts that attest to this fact. Once, the Prophet went to At-Ta’if, outside Makkah, hoping that the people of that town would accept the message from Allah Almighty. To his surprise, the people of at-Ta’if were as cruel as the people of Makkah.

They humiliated and ridiculed him (PBUH). And their children pelted him with stones till his feet bled. Angel Gabriel came down to the Prophet and showed his readiness to destroy the whole town of At-Ta’if. The Prophet, instead of getting angry at being ridiculed and harmed and accepting Angel Gabriel’s offer, he prayed for the salvation of the people of At-Ta’if.

Also the Prophet (PBUH) prayed for the guidance of his own people. Abu Hurairah reported that Tufail ibn `Amr Ad-Dawsi and his companions came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said:

“‘O Allah’s Messenger! the people of the tribe of Daws disobeyed and refused to follow you; so invoke Allah against them.’ The people said, ‘The tribe of Daws is ruined.’ The Prophet said, ‘O Allah! give guidance to the people of Daws, and let them embrace Islam.'” (Al-Bukhari)

This is how the Prophet (PBUH) dealt with his enemies and those who persecuted him. He never called for cursing them, nor did he invoke God’s wrath on them. 

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Who is Prophet Muhammad?

Prophet Muhammad: Master of Tolerance

The Prophet’s Forgiveness of His Enemies

A Mercy to The Worlds

Was the Prophet Unjust to the Jews?

The Prophet’s Inexhaustible Patience